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Active Threads


Exhibition: May 8 to September 19, 2021

Curator: Julia Höner

The international group exhibition Active Threads at KAI 10 | ARTHENA FOUNDATION inquires into the social and political relevance of textiles today. It explores how textile fabrics still function as extremely effective means of communication, even in our present digital era. Within this specific context, the exhibition touches upon geopolitical conflicts, latent and obvious postcolonial wounds and examples of civil protest, but also motifs drawn from fan culture. It thus becomes evident in just how many ways textiles can serve as catalysts of societal and cultural processes.

Textiles are to be found in all parts of the world. They form extensive networks, in which historical trade routes and individual biographies manifest themselves, just as the discriminating consequences of capitalism. In addition, textile fabrics serve as a transcultural archetype of social cohesion within a society – not least due to the fact that textile structures are based on the ties between individual threads that only together produce a durable fabric. The socially meaningful role of textile materials also becomes apparent in clothing, whose function as a kind of second skin via which we communicate is a familiar phenomenon. However, this exhibition focusses more on the less obvious, everyday and politically charged situations, in which textile fabrics attain social relevance, for example, by lending a voice to those who are otherwise speechless. Textiles connect humans and things, network cultures and geographies, interweave what is unrelated or destroyed. They create identity and community, and promote collective experiences. But textiles also play a role when ingrained conceptions of society and political systems are being called into question. The exhibition illustrates in which form textile fabrics and techniques can transport political messages, how decoration transforms into radical symbolism and how fabrics support memories or preserve our material environment. In their works – including handcrafted or industrially produced woven artefacts, hand-stitched works, installations, gouaches and painted fabric banners – the eight international artists challenge the frequently used metaphor of the “social fabric” and reflect today’s forms of societal coexistence and solidarity.

Supported by


Accompanying program

, since 11 am

Active Threads: Video Welcome

Video Welcome by Julia Höner, Artistic Director KAI10 | ARTHENA FOUNDATION

since May 8, 2021 on: & Instagram @kai10_arthenafoundation

, 12 – 8 pm

Active Threads: LONG SATURDAY

1 pm: Welcome by Julia Höner, Artistic Director KAI 10 | ARTHENA FOUNDATION

Conversational tour through the exhibition with Julia Höner und Sabine Maria Schmidt, curator of Examination of a case. Pop and Politics in Contemporary Textile Arts at Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz.

1-6 pm: Ice cream for everyone from Eis Licious, Düsseldorf

Please register for the conversational tour by phone at +49 (0)211 99 434 130 or on our website, as the number of participants is limited. Due to the capacity of the space, there may be short waiting times for admission during the course of the day. Thank you for your understanding!

, 7 pm

Active Threads: WHAT IS AT HAND

Thoughts on Textile Activism

Lecture by Leena Crasemann (Hamburg University) and Anne Röhl (Siegen University), Editors of the journal Hard-pressed: Textilien und Aktivismus, 1990–2020.

We will inform you on our homepage whether all events will take place at KAI10 or online.

, 2 pm

Active Threads: Artists talk

An artists talk with Juan Pérez Agirregoikoa and Hana Miletic´ (in English).

We will inform you on our homepage whether all events will take place at KAI10 or online.

Public guided tours


Public guided tours | 3 pm: 27.06.2021, 04.07.2021, 18.07.2021, 01.08.2021, 15.08.2021, 29.08.2021

Please book an appointment

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